Danger! Danger! wants you to know right up front exactly what it is trying to be: a love letter to the Steven Spielberg movies of the Eighties, a grown up darker version of The Goonies and just a touch of Guardians of the Galaxy.
After all, that’s what the trailer says.
And it is a good thing it does or we probably wouldn’t figure any of that out on our own.
I suppose if you squint a bit you might see some of that: after all, we have a bunch of characters after a treasure: the hero, the girl, the evil Nazi girl, and the usual gang of bad guys who just happen to be Soviets. Not Nazis.
But, that’s sort of inevitable when you remember that this one is set in 1985.
If I point out that the MacGuffin they are after is a time machine, you might even figure out that 1985 is significant, too:
After all, that’s the year that Back to the Future came out.
Not that you’ll notice any particular similarities to that film, either.
You can’t fault writer/directors Nick and Lexie Trivundza for ambition. They’ve got a very clear idea of what they want. The problem is that they just didn’t have the budget to pull this off. Yes, we do get a few scenes on location, and a few moments of people racing around in far too modern jeeps. But most of the scenes are dialogue scenes, and a lot of them take place on a set even if we do get plenty of location shooting. There is an attempt to provide some action, but most of it involves shooting guns at each other.
Followed by more talk, of course.
I suppose, it would have helped if the script had been a little better, or if they’d tried to make something more Road picture than Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nor does it help that there are a lot of things which seem to be important but are never explained (how, for example, did Jonathan get that password?).
And I don’t think the torture scene was a good idea at all.
Mind you, some of it works reasonably well, and it does get off to a fairly good start. The problem is that every time things seem to be warming up nicely, we get more talk.
I’m not saying this was a bad film. It just doesn’t deal well with its weaknesses. Yes, that opening scene of The Temple of Doom is tense and dramatic, even if it is merely a group of people sitting around a table talking. But that isn’t exactly easy to do if you’re not Steven Spielberg. The truth is that there are a lot of ways to build interesting action sequences even if you don’t have a multibillion dollar budget and lots of vehicles to chase around in. And I don’t just mean fist fights or shooting guns at each other. After all, what makes Indie fun are all the traps and pitfalls — and the clever things he does to escape.
There’s actually a fairly good time travel idea here, although the ending reduces it all down to a mess of paradoxes and fails to give us a really satisfying conclusion.
Even if it falls back on a pretty standard trope.
Oh, well. Maybe the next time the Trivundza’s will have a budget to match their ambitions.
But I’m just not sure that will be enough…